Friday, 30 October 2009

Experiencing Drug Induced Altered States of Consciousness...

The announcement of the sacking of Professor David Nutt from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has got me thinking about the motives of the government with regard to drugs policy.

Professor Nutt fell out of favour with the government for suggesting that the dangers posed by the ingestion of drugs such as ecstasy and cannabis were comparable to those associated with horse riding - coining the term"Equasy" - and arguing that this practice represents "an over-looked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms". Nutt observes that:

"This attitude raises the critical question of why society tolerates - indeed encourages - certain forms of potentially harmful behaviour but not others, such as drug use" (source)

If the government is not basing its policies on the risk factor involved in the ingestion of psychoactive chemicals, then what reason does it have?

Psychoactive plants and chemicals (psychedelic in particular), by definition, produce an alteration of consciousness when ingested. Naturally the huge varieties of psychoactive substances produce an equally large variety of alterations of consciousness, each one providing a different perspective on the world through subtlely, or severely, affecting the way in which we perceive and interact with it - even to the extent of entirely shifting our perspective away from this world altogether.

This is the most immediate consequence of ingesting a psychoactive chemical, and is potentially at the root of government concern over their use.

I have already posted this quote from William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, but will do so again oweing to its relevance to the issue at hand here:

"... our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded" (James, 2004, 335)

James' realisation of the vast plurality of world-perspectives occurred after an experience with nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas and still popularly used recreationally for its consciousness altering effects. James' experience opened his eyes to a potential multiverse of subjective worlds. This potential is an inherent part of what it means to be human and consequently represents a fundamental property of the universe, of which we are a part. When these other worlds are ignored we are missing out on a substantial portion of our freedom to explore existence.

I wonder, therefore, whether the decisions made by the government to ignore evidence, provided by their expert advisers, have anything to do with the fact that they may indirectly result in human beings excersising their innate freedom to perceive the world in alternative ways.

Theorists such as David Icke would support this suggestion. Icke has argued that there has been an agenda in place over hundreds of years to increasingly narrow human access to understanding the true nature of reality:

The actions of the government with regards to the issue of drug consumption would appear to bolster Icke's hypothesis. Efforts are being made to impinge on the potential for human beings to experience reality in all it's beauty, intricasies and infinite permutations.

The issue is very real. These experiences are very real, and our ability to access them is being reduced. Of course the ingestion of psychactive compounds is not the only means to experience altered states of consciousness, but it is a means that we should not be denied.

I have a particular worry about the possible illegalisation of Salvia Divinorum, an incredible plant with the power to enable the experience of alternate realities and communication with their inhabitants. To have this doorway walled up would be a great loss.

It is worrying to note that government policy concerning consciousness altering substances (as well as on other issues) is followings its own agenda, regardless of expert opinion.

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